The knowledge of joy

In the beginning was the Word

and the Word was with God

and the Word was God.

The Word was with God in the beginning.

Everything came into being through the Word,

and without the Word

nothing came into being.

What came into being

through the Word was life,

and the life was the light for all people.

The light shines in the darkness,

and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light. ~John 5:1-5 (CEB)

“Joy does not come from positive predictions about the state of the world. It does not depend on the ups and downs of the circumstances of our lives. Joy is based on the spiritual knowledge that, while the world in which we live is shrouded in darkness, God has overcome the world. Jesus says it loudly and clearly: ‘In the world you will have troubles, but rejoice, I have overcome the world.’

The surprise is not that, unexpectedly, things turn out better than expected. No, the real surprise is that God’s light is more real than all the darkness, that God’s truth is more powerful than all human lies, that God’s love is stronger than death.” ~From Here and Now by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Thank You Heavenly Father for shinning into my darkness. Thank You for overcoming the world with Your light of Truth. May I walk through this day with the confidence of a beloved child of God. Amen.

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Never alone

Right then, Jesus made his disciples get into a boat and go ahead to the other side of the lake, toward Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After saying good- bye to them, Jesus went up onto a mountain to pray. Evening came and the boat was in the middle of the lake, but he was alone on the land. He saw his disciples struggling. They were trying to row forward, but the wind was blowing against them. Very early in the morning, he came to them, walking on the lake. He intended to pass by them. When they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost and they screamed. Seeing him was terrifying to all of them. Just then he spoke to them, “Be encouraged! It’s me. Don’t be afraid.” He got into the boat, and the wind settled down. His disciples were so baffled they were beside themselves. That’s because they hadn’t understood about the loaves. Their hearts had been changed so that they resisted God’s ways. ~Mark 6:45-52 (CEB)

“There are those times in our lives when nothing seems to go as we planned. Times when day after day we are faced with difficulties and darkness no matter how much we long for lighter loads and light for our pathway. There are other times when we come from a spectacular high moment and suddenly find ourselves handing on to hope by our fingernails. While such a situation can be distressing, it is good to remember that we are not the first to experience darkness, difficulty, or disappointing surprises in the midst of faithful and sunny days.

Chapter 6 in Mark’s Gospel reports the rejection Jesus encountered in his hometown, the first missionary venture of the twelve, the death of John the Baptist, feeding the five thousand, Jesus’ walking on the water, and the healing in Gennesaret. In this one chapter we are confronted with the widest range of human emotion and experience, great miracles as well as great disappointment.

Our lives may be a bit steadier and the peaks and valleys a little more subdued than what Jesus and the twelve experienced. However, we do live through those periods when nothing seems to go our way, when the winds of life seem to be against us, when we are working hard but getting nowhere. So it was with the disciples as they strained at the oars against an adverse wind. Then Jesus appeared to them and uttered the words we all want to hear in the terror of our own personal storm: ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid’. The storm was over the moment Jesus was recognized by the disciples, and soon the men found themselves at their destination.

One of the best times for us to cultivate the nearness of God emerges when nothing is going our way. Such an experience may sharpen our ability to see God at work in our midst and in our lives. Remember that we are not alone when things are not going our way, as we are not alone when things are going our way. Each situation gives us opportunity to pay attention to God’s presence and call for God’s help. ~From A Guide to Prayer For All Who Seek God, Rueben P. Job

Almighty God, in Whom I find life, health, and strength, and through Whose mercy  I am clothed and fed, grant unto me a thankful and faithful heart. In the name and spirit of Christ. Amen.

True devotion

True devotion, the kind that is pure and faultless before God the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their difficulties and to keep the world from contaminating us. ~James 1:27

“One of the few things John Wesley feared was the accumulation of wealth. As a biblical scholar and a practical theologian he was convinced that to follow Jesus Christ meant involvement with, and ministry among and to, the poor. This conviction led him to live on a modest income even when his writing was producing significant return. His solution was to give away all but the money he needed to buy the essentials.

This understanding of the relationship between following Christ and involvement with the poor led him to some unusual practices. It was not uncommon for him to beg in order to raise money for the poor . . .

Not only did Wesley beg on behalf of the poor, he preached to them and found ways to be with them. His journal is filled with entries that describe his experiences of visiting the poor, the prisoner, the sorrowing and the suffering. The false stereotypes of the day were shattered as he came to work with and to know the poor and the needy of the world. Had he ignored God’s urging to ministry with the poor he would have missed a large segment of the population that turned toward Christ through the Methodist movement. He would also have missed living and witnessing to a balanced faith that emphasized love for God and love for neighbor in very simple and practical ways.” ~From A Wesleyan Spiritual Reader Spiritual Reader by Rueben P. Job

Lord Jesus Christ, hasten the day when all of your people may know the joy, peace, and harmony of Your kingdom. Grant unto me this day the power to live within Your kingdom. In the name of Christ. Amen.

To love with God’s compassion

May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed! He is the compassionate Father and God of all comfort. He’s the one who comforts us in all our trouble so that we can comfort other people who are in every kind of trouble. We offer the same comfort that we ourselves received from God. ~1 Cor. 1:3-4 (CEB)

“If there is one notion that is central to all great religions it is that of ‘compassion.’ The sacred scriptures of the Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, and Christians all speak about God as the God of compassion. In a world in which competition continues to be the dominant mode of relating among people, be it in politics, sports, or economics, all true believers proclaim compassion, not competition, as God’s way . . .

Compassion, to be with others when and where they suffer and to willingly enter into a fellowship of the weak, is God’s way to justice and peace among people. Is this possible? Yes, it is, but only when we dare to live with the radical faith that we do not have to compete for love, but that love is freely given to us by the One who calls us to compassion.” ~From Here and Now by Henri J. M. Nouwen,

Almighty God, form whom every good prayer comes, and Who pours out on all who desire it, the spirit of grace and supplication: Deliver us, when we draw close to You, from coldness of heart and wandering of mind, that, with steadfast thought and kindled affections, we may worship You in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

To love as Jesus does

Therefore, imitate God like dearly loved children. Live your life with love, following the example of Christ, who loved us and gave himself for us. He was a sacrificial offering that smelled sweet to God. ~Ephesians 5:1-2 (CEB)

“Compassionate people often inspire others to be compassionate. I feel this way whenever I meditate on the life of Jesus. I marvel at how Jesus was so consistently compassionate when he met the ill, the grieving, the hungry, the oppressed. He is often described as being ‘deeply moved in spirit’ or feeling compassion for people. Jesus touched torn and tattered people with an amazing awareness of their woundedness. The vastness of his ability to love and be loved is phenomenal.

I’ve also been inspired by compassionate people in history such as Dorothy Day, Mahatma Ghandi, Etty Hillesum, Tom Dooley, Mother Teresa, and Albert Schweitzer. I was in awe as I read about the English spiritual writer, Caryll Houselander. Psychologists would bring their mentally and emotionally ill patients whom they could not sure to live with Caryll because they were astounded at the affect her compassionate presence had on them. Caryll accepted and loved the patients and this made a dramatic healing impact on their health.

When I look at the lives of compassionate people I see some common characteristics. They often have significant suffering or painful life events of their own, a generous hear, a non-blaming and non-judging mind, a keen empathy, and a love that embraces the oneness of all creation.

I invite you to think about your teachers of compassion today. Who has taught you how to offer the cup of compassion to others?” ~From The Cup of Our Life by Joyce Rupp

Help me today O Lord, to show Your love to those I meet this day. Help me to see people as You see them, beloved and precious. Help me to look past present circumstances to who You know they are. Give me the ability to love with grace and mercy as Jesus did. Amen.

Judgement of the nations

“Now when the Human One comes in his majesty and all his angels are with him, he will sit on his majestic throne. All the nations will be gathered in front of him. He will separate them from each other, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right side. But the goats he will put on his left.

“Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who will receive good things from my Father. Inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world began. I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me. ‘

“Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? ‘

“Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Get away from me, you who will receive terrible things. Go into the unending fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels. I was hungry and you didn’t give me food to eat. I was thirsty and you didn’t give me anything to drink. I was a stranger and you didn’t welcome me. I was naked and you didn’t give me clothes to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and didn’t do anything to help you?’ Then he will answer, ‘I assure you that when you haven’t done it for one of the least of these, you haven’t done it for me.’  And they will go away into eternal punishment. But the righteous ones will go into eternal life.” ~Matt. 25:31-46 (CEB)

“I always explain to the sister, ‘It is Christ you tend in the poor. It is his wounds you bathe, his sores you clean, his limbs you bandage. See beyond appearances, hear the words Jesus pronounced long ago. They are still operative today: What you do to the least of mine, you do it to me. When you serve the poor, you serve our Lord Jesus Christ.’” ~From My Life for the Poor by Mother Teresa

Heavenly Father, Help me to be Your hands and feet in the world. Let those I meet this day see You through me. Amen.

Mercy, not sacrafice

Go and learn what this means: I want mercy and not sacrifice. I didn’t come to call righteous people, but sinners. ~Matt 9:13

 

“Following the way of forgiveness prepares us to go one step further. Something more is asked of us by Jesus: ‘Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I didn’t come to call the righteous, but the sinner.’

This ‘something more’ is compassion. Once we grasp the depth of God’s merciful love for us, he wants us to express that same compassion for others. This is the balm that softens the scars of sinfulness and suffering. As we show mercy to others, so they will extend the blessing to us in turn.

Ask yourself some revealing questions: Do I sense the presence of the suffering Christ in others? Do I share their pain? Am I aware of their vulnerability? Do I know that the need for mercy is often hidden under a mask of self-sufficiency, coldness, and indifference?” ~From Divine Guidance by Susan Muto and Adrian Van Kamm

Heavenly Father, help me to understand Your ways of mercy. Help me to sense the presence of the suffering Christ in others. Help me to share their pain. Let me see past the masks of self-sufficiency, coldness and indifference to the vulnerability inside. Amen.

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